HP will issue a major update later this year on its first 3D printer, which will supposedly print faster and at a higher quality than current printers, CEO Meg Whitman told shareholders at an annual meeting Wednesday, according to PCWorld. HP clarified on March 24 that the announcement will occur by October 31 instead of in June, as originally stated by Whitman.
Whitman said 3D printing is currently “like watching ice melt,” and the surface quality of 3D printed objects needs improvement. She did not say how HP plans to increase PRINTING speed, but Wired reported last year that HP is developing its own polymer for printing.
HP will enter the 3D printing market in phases, according to PCWorld. It will first target businesses with employees that need to print prototypes and finished products. Other business-oriented printers generally cost at least $5,000, if not $10,000 or $100,000. Whitman said that HP was also focusing on cost when news of an HP 3D printer first broke in October. The most innovative business 3D printers of late have been on the cheaper end of that spectrum, so the company will need to target that $5,000 mark to be truly competitive.
There’s no word yet on exactly when HP will begin selling its first printer. But if the 2D printing veteran really has solved the speed problem, it will be major news in the 3D printing industry.
Quality and cost have improved consistently, but no one has really been able to significantly speed up the process of printing in plastic. That could be HP’s big chance to leapfrog over market-leading 3D printing companies Stratasys and 3D Systems.
This post was updated on March 24 to include a revised statement from HP that the announcement will occur by the end of the company’s fiscal year in October.